In the last article we described the process of convincing the subconscious mind that we really are stopping the smoking habit. We expressed our conviction that using replacement therapy merely prolongs the physical addiction and adds to the pains of quitting. But cigarettes are just one corner of the tobacco trend. This month we debunk cigars.

When we think of a man smoking a cigar, what images pop into our mind? Cigar smokers are usually affluent captains of influence and power, and the lower self hangs on to this image as a desirable end. The genteel man retiring to the drawing room after dinner for a brandy and cigar seems to be an image that the subconscious can identify with as an attractive goal and makes it feel as though he/she has attained an enviable social summit. The reality is, however, that the cigar smoker is also an addict.

Even though he may not inhale the smoke, nicotine is absorbed from the oral mucosa (the mucous membrane lining the mouth). There may be slightly less irritation and trauma to the lungs than in cigarette smoking, yet cancer of the lung is still common in these people. There is the added irritation and trauma to the mouth and lips that tends to cause malignant changes of the labial and oral mucosa. Since many people also chew on their cigars, resulting in some swallowing of the noxious tobacco, carcinoma of the esophagus is common. So the reality is that the coveted image of the cultured gentlemen is a fanciful one, with no validity. The result is an uncomely disease-producing addiction.

The irritation of the oral and labial mucosa can cause "white spots" (Leukoplakia, which is precancerous) and "red spots" that are true cancers. Cancerous lesions of the lip are not uncommon for the cigar smoker. A constant "upset stomach" is often the result of swallowing the "juice" from the chewed end of the cigar.

There is a new trend in the young "in" society to switch to cigars from cigarettes thinking that it is less hazardous. There are many smoking clubs, often called "The Georges Sand Society," forming in the larger cities to memorialize the women who smoked cigars. Georges Sand was not only the lover of Frederick Chopin, she was also one of the few women in history that was addicted to cigar smoking. The fact that many women have taken to cigars is not only alarming but suggests that there will be more cancer among these women in the future. This includes breast cancer, for there is some evidence that smoking tobacco increases the incidence of breast cancer. There is also evidence that irritation of the urinary bladder from the absorbed toxins is connected to cancer of the bladder.

Many restaurants are now catering to the cigar smoker by offering separate rooms for the smoking of the cigar, thereby carrying on the great myth of affluence and being cosmopolitan. We must eliminate these false images from the minds of our young adults and instill in them a reality of the dangers of smoking so that they may make an informed decision to give up this dangerous and expensive habit. The smoke from cigars is not only a very carcinogenic substance, it is also offensive to almost everyone. I see no glamour associated with cigar smoking, nor does it indicate affluence, intelligence or power. Stamp out its use.

Dr. Devananda Tandavan, MD, is a member of the American Medical Association, the International College of Surgeons, the Society of Nuclear Medicine, the American Federation of Astrologers, the International Reiki Association, the International Center of Homeopathy- and more. Send your questions to Hinduism Today, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii 96746 USA.